Whether fishing is a weekend hobby or serious business, the best fish finder GPS combo will ensure that you not only find more fish but catch more as well.
Best of all, the GPS capabilities allow you to track your location, chart waypoints, and create maps of all the lakes you frequent. It’s like showing up to the water with a treasure map.
So, start your trolling motor, set her nice and low, and get ready to see some of the most impressive GPS fish finders on the market in 2021.
Our Reviews of the Best Kayak Fish Finders
Humminbird Helix 5 G2
Humminbird offers the best products and this is no exception. You get the dual imaging sonar beam which means you can see what’s going on underneath the boat as well as on the side. Plus, the built-in GPS navigation is a great feature for charting and plotting waypoints that you may want to revisit later.
Some of the reviews are overly critical of the setup process but for someone with a slight bit of technical ability, you should have no issues.
Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
This fish finder with GPS combo offers the biggest bang for your buck because you get a traditional sonar and CHIRP sonar fish finder for the price of one. Plus, it comes with Garmin’s Quickdraw Contours feature that allows you to build maps and track your location with the built-in GPS.
Garmin Striker 4
This is a great fish finder that provides you with high-frequency sonar so you get a great representation of what’s going on beneath the surface. It also uses an easy to operate touchpad which is easier than some of the touchscreen models. The waypoint and GPS mapping is also a nice added feature when this is already at an affordable price range.
Simrad GO9 XSE
This chart plotter fish finder offers real-time images of what’s going on under the water. It uses a proprietary Navionics cartography to help you map waypoints, chart ideal locations, and receive on-screen data the whole way. Best of all it uses a 10Hz GPS receiver so all this information comes in quickly.
If you’re looking for a GPS fish finder combo that comes with as many lakes as you can handle, this is the one. From there you can expand upon the lakes they have by charting and mapping over them so you have a personal action plan each time you hit the water. There’s really nothing bad that I can say about this one.
Not to mention the TripShot transducer which ensures that you never miss a fish. You get crystal clear imaging on all sides of the boat and the CHIRP sonar helps you identify sizes and specific locations of structure.
I don’t know what it is because I’ve read this on multiple occasions now but Lowrance needs to get their customer service situation figured out. Most of the complaints about this fish finder have nothing to do with the unit itself and everything to do with the customer service.
Anyway, this product offers exceptional technology, wide range scanning, smartphone integration, mapping, chart plotting, GPS, and much more. It’s everything you want, packaged up nicely in a wide-screen fish finder GPS unit.
How to Choose the Best Fish Finder GPS Combo
You’ve seen the top options available for purchase on Amazon, now it’s time to determine how we’ll pick one. There are a few different factors and any of these fish finders recommended in this article have advanced technology that you won’t find in some other models. Jump aboard as we dive into each of these buying factors.
Type of Sonar
The first and most important thing you should understand is the different types of sonar. Having a high-quality fish finder has nothing to do with what brand it is, what size screen you have, where you mount it, or what color it is.
It has everything to do with the sonar.
There are four primary types of sonar. Some fish finders only have one of them while others have all four.
The traditional types of fish finders are called conventional sonar. This means that the sonar waves run down into the water until they bounce off something. When they bounce, you know you’ve found something.
The problem with this type of sonar is at one time, they couldn’t tell you what they were bouncing off. So, you could have the catch of a lifetime or a patch of weeds in the water. You didn’t know the difference.
Chirp sonar functions a lot like standard sonar but in quick bursts instead. So, as opposed to sending a constant flow of sonar it’ll send out frequent chirps that will help reset and pick up new movement as you’re moving along. This isn’t necessarily more accurate but it provides a clearer picture so it’s easier for the angler to understand.
Reason is, if you notice that a certain object on the screen moves and other doesn’t even time the screen resets, you’ll know that the moving thing is a fish and the other arch isn’t.
Down image fish finders are the most common and instead of sending sonar down into the water to bounce, they use a cone that covers a certain amount of space beneath the water.
For example, if you’re trying to figure an area to toss a jig, you might want to know how deep the fish are under the boat. A down imaging fish finder would be ideal here. These are also the ideal choice for ice fishing.
Side imaging or sidevü fish finders are the best of the best and they usually come at a price tag to reflect that. If you want to see what’s going on all around the boat rather than just beneath it, this is the way to go.
For example, if there’s a column of weeds but you want to know if there are any fish on the other side to toss a topwater frog, the side imaging fish finder will send sonar horizontally towards that direction.
In some cases, you’ll hear words like TripleShot, Dual Beam, and others. These refer to combinations of imaging. TripleShot fish finders are the top choice because they offer Chirp, down imaging, and side imaging all in one.
The angle of your cone is another important factor. The wider the cone the more area you can cover beneath the boat. But, keep in mind that larger isn’t always better. If you have a wider cone radius, it also means you have a less accurate signal.
What you want to pay attention to is the depth of your cone. Some fish finders have cone depths between 75-150 feet. That means that you’ll start to lose accuracy as you get close to those depths.
The deeper the cone will reach, the better you’ll perform in deep water. But, it will also increase your cost. Dual beam signals cover more area and many fish finders will allow you to control the width of your cone so you can zero in on fish or widen it out if you’re not seeing anything.
The whole article is about depth finder GPS combos so GPS capabilities are obviously important. What you’re looking for is simplicity and accuracy. You don’t need anything too fancy because it’ll end up being a useful feature that you’ll never touch.
As long as the GPS can accurately depict your location, you’re good to go. It’s also nice to have one that has Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync it with your phone. That’s a nice added feature.
Mapping and Plotting
Plotting waypoints is great because you can mark down locations you caught something or areas that you want to revisit for whatever reason. Most fish finders with internal GPS come with this feature as well and all of the options available here do.
Many of these fish finders also come with preloaded maps with lakes from all over the country already mapped for you. This is a great feature for fishing spots you’ve never been before and tracking hot spots around the water.
The display is important because you’re paying a lot of money for something and you want to make sure you can see and read it. Make sure that the device you choose is easy to navigate, accurate, and simple to set up.
If you’re not tech-savvy, this will be even more important because some of these devices can get complicated.
Consider the type of screen you want as well. Most fish finders offer a color display because it’s easier to see contours that way. If they have a backlight or glare adjustment, that’s an added bonus too. Look for an LCD split-screen display with a high pixel whenever possible.
If you’re shopping around for a kayak fish finder, mounting will be an important factor. Make sure that when you shop, you get all the components you need to mount the device before you wake up to go fishing. The worst thing is waking up and realizing that you’re missing something.
Many fish finders will require you to purchase additional parts and it can seem misleading based on the advertising. When you receive the device, check the parts and mount it as soon as possible.
Also, factor in the location of the transducer. Most of them are transom mount transducers which means they mount to the back of the boat to limit the amount of water they take.
In-hull mounted fish finders are the easiest and safest because you don’t need to put them outside the boat but many people think they’re not as accurate. Keep in mind how saltwater may corrode the unit faster than freshwater as well.
Durability is always a factor you should think about because some fish finders are more waterproof than others. Make sure you understand that water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof and most fish finders can’t get wet so you’ll want to mount them properly.
Some are also more portable than others. Some can get removed and stored in a fishing backpack or even a tackle box.
Transducer power is calculated in RMS which is “root mean squared.” Most fish finders are around 500 RMS and that’s generally where you want to be. Anything less than that won’t provide a clear image. The more power they have, the better they’ll work in deeper water as well.
Your frequency is an important factor that goes along with power. The higher the frequency, the less depth, and power you have. The lower the frequency, the more power, and depth. Keep these in mind as you choose.
When shopping based on durability, it helps to go with recommended brands. Garmin, Humminbird, Raymarine, Dragonfly, EchoMap, these are all popular brand names.
The best fish finder GPS combo should consist of a high-quality transducer with a wide-angle cone that provides clear and concise images.
It should also offer a substantial GPS system with mapping capabilities so you can navigate the water and create waypoints.
It’s a tall order but all the fish finders in this review will do just that, and quite well I might add. If you’ve decided that you’re ready to work smarter and not harder, these devices will help you do just that.
What’s the most important feature you look for in a fish finder?